It is a common belief that antennas attract lightning. But is it true?
TV Antennas are a good conductor of electricity, so they could certainly attract lightning. During a thunderstorm, anything conductive that is not grounded will gather a static charge; as this charge accumulates, it naturally attracts lightning. Most TV antennas are not grounded, which means they are susceptible to a lightning strike. Grounding an antenna discharges any charge that may accumulate and draw a strike.
So how does it all work?
During thunderstorms, an electrical charge forms in the sky, most commonly in the storm clouds. As these charged particles move in the atmosphere, an opposite charge increases on the ground below. These electrical charges send out ‘feelers’ as they try to connect; as these feelers ionize the air, the conductivity of the air decreases, and eventually the two charges connect and transmit a massive quantity of electrical energy. The massive current flow generates voltage and current in the adjacent wire, resulting in a voltage surge that will burn outlets and damage everything attached.
An ungrounded antenna can also cause much more harm than just that. These ungrounded antennas build up electrical charges and can cause silent damage to your electrical equipment. The charge can move down your cable, accumulating more power. Once it has enough power, it can do damage to your television outlets and even your television itself. This of course results in you needing to replace your television, your antenna and any other damaged equipment along the way.
TV antennas can certainly attract lightning. It takes just one strike to cause damage to your TV, the antenna, and any cabling and connections. There are a few ways you can protect your audio visual equipment including earthing of an antenna support and this one is best left to the experts. Unfortunately there isn’t a lot you can do to protect your TV antenna from a direct hit by lightning. Surge protectors and the like will go some way to providing protection from close strikes, but a direct hit will always cause a level of damage.
If your TV antenna is hit directly with lightning, don’t touch it yourself. Leave your antenna and everything else in place, keep your family safe and call in an expert antenna repairer.